Muscat: Everyone in the Sultanate is advised to take the influenza vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic for greater immunity as the combined effect of coronavirus and flu can turn fatal, an official from the Ministry of Health has said.
Oman has registered 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19, according to data from the Ministry of Health, pointing to an increase in new infections.
Talking exclusively to the Times of Oman, Dr Abdullah Al Qayoodhi, Consulate on Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Head of the Infection Prevention Section and one of the pioneers in the Directorate General of Disease Surveillance and Control at the Ministry of Health, said, “I advise everyone in the Sultanate to take the influenza vaccine as soon as possible during the next few weeks.”
“Actually, we have divided people into several categories: One group consists of those having chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure etc, others are pregnant women, elders, those with weak immunity, medical staff on the frontlines, and men and women who do not suffer from any chronic diseases. Even a person not suffering from any chronic disease is advised to take the influenza vaccine,” the Ministry of Health official has said.
“The Ministry is planning to vaccinate all children whether they have any chronic disease or not, to protect them from COVID-19 and to limit its spread. If a person is suffering from influenza virus and gets infected with coronavirus at the same time, there will be severe complications.” Dr. Abdullah added, “The risk of influenza virus is no less than the coronavirus because some people don’t have very strong immunity leading to their hospitalisation and fatality. I advise all to take this influenza vaccine as soon as possible.”
Regarding when to take the vaccine, Dr Abdullah said, “It should be taken in the beginning of October or November. People who have chronic diseases, pregnant women, elders, and those with weak immunity, medical staff on the frontlines and elders usually get the vaccine free from the Ministry of Health while others can take it from the private hospitals.”
Explaining the reason behind the production of influenza vaccine everywhere, Dr Al Qayoodhi said, “The influenza virus alters its genetic sequence every year after it is exposed to the vaccine. So to build the body’s resistance against the disease, some changes are made to match its mutations. Therefore, companies manufacture different types of vaccines every year to make them effective.”
He concluded, “No one should think that if he had taken the vaccine last year, he does not need it this year. It should be taken annually for protection from the flu. I personally take the vaccine every year. The influenza virus can change its genetic sequence twice a year, so it is very important to take the influenza vaccine to protect your body and reduce the severity of COVID-19.”